Robin Leigh Rawl believes in the power of economic empowerment.
For 20 years, the vice president of sales for ClubCorp USA has been sharing her business expertise with students as a volunteer with Junior Achievement of Central South Carolina.
The organization got a significant endorsement of its efforts recently when it received the Junior Achievement USA Platinum Summit Award. The award is one of the nonprofit’s highest honors and goes to local Junior Achievement programs that show significant successes in financial health, effective management, and program quality and growth.
The Junior Achievement Central South Carolina Chapter was recognized recently during the Junior Achievement National Leadership Conference in Grand Rapids, Mich.
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Rawl, who also serves on the Central South Carolina Chapter’s board, spoke recently about the significance of the honor, what drives her service and the benefits of the program to the area’s youth.
What is Junior Achievement’s primary mission?
Our mission is to inspire and prepare young people to succeed in the global economy. This has never been more important than today, when our economy has faltered and few of the old rules seem to apply to today’s circumstances. The students in our Junior Achievement programs become confident, skilled workers who understand the real world and are the people that employers want to hire.
What do you think the Platinum Summit Award says about the state chapter and those efforts?
It means that we run a good organization. Junior Achievement of Central South Carolina has received this award 25 times, which indicates a very strong dedication to our mission.
Do you feel there is an even greater need to emphasize early career planning and economic training, given the challenges facing the economy?
Many adults have a difficult time understanding — much less explaining in an age-appropriate way to a child — what is going on in our government and in our financial markets. America can, and must, do a better job of educating our kids about effective money management. This must be done not only so they can avoid the financial pitfalls into which so many adults have fallen, but primarily because our kids will someday run our businesses, our government and our financial institutions.
How did you first become involved with Junior Achievement?
I was told about JA from a friend who was a volunteer. The program really interested me as I saw a gap in the teaching of financial education. Amazingly, I’ve had the opportunity to teach the same class with the same teacher for 20 years. We’ve arranged for my JA teaching schedule to work around their curriculum.
What is a role you feel JA plays that otherwise might not be addressed in school?
Research indicates that only 43 percent of parents have discussed the importance of prioritizing needs and wants with their kids, and a surprising 42 percent of parents have not taken the steps to discuss financial basics. Many parents assume, incorrectly, that their children learn money management skills as part of the school’s curriculum, when in fact, fewer than half of our states require even a basic economics course, much less personal financial literacy education.
What are among the greatest personal rewards you experience as a Junior Achievement volunteer?
By sharing my personal and professional experiences and skills with students, I have been able to play a big part in their making the connection between what they are learning in school and what they will need to succeed in work and life. It actually takes very little time, less than an hour a week for only five weeks. In that time, however, I am able to make a difference in the lives of these young students.
What is one of the best-kept secrets about JA that you wish more people knew?
I heard recently that many people know what Junior Achievement is, but few people actually know what JA does. It brings classes into schools, after-school programs and other venues. These classes build upon what the schools are teaching but are uniquely designed to be relevant to the students’ lives. All of these classes are taught by unpaid volunteers who donate their time and energy to help students develop successful financial management habits and provide them with real-world exercises that are relevant.”